Photo of the Day

Spartacus (Peter Lupus) is in a precarious situation in CHALLENGE OF THE GLADIATOR

Though this scene didn't make it in the top 30 Greatest Moments of PELUM Cinema it's moments like these which instantly pop up into my mind when someone asks me to describe the genre: muscular hero caught in some improbable death trap which can kill him instantly if he tries to escape. What other genre in the world of cinema had these over-the-top moments? Not many. 

Breakdown of the 30 GREATEST MOMENTS OF PEPLUM CINEMA

So here's the breakdown of the selections:

- Only 3 films has two scenes in the top 30 : HERCULES, HERCULES UNCHAINED and THE GIANTS OF THESSALY.

- Directors: 

Pietro Francisci has 7 scenes from his films: two from HERCULES; two from HERCULES UNCHAINED; one from HERCULES, SAMSON & ULYSSES; one from THE QUEEN OF SHEBA and one from SIEGE OF SYRACUSE. Three of those scenes are in the top ten.

Riccardo Freda has 5 moments in the top 30: two from THE GIANTS OF THESSALY; one from SPARTACO : SINS OF ROME; one from THEODORA - SLAVE EMPRESS and one from MACISTE IN HELL. Three of those scenes are in the top ten.

Giacomo Gentilomo has two scenes: from HERCULES AGAINST THE MOON MEN and GOLIATH & THE VAMPIRES.

- Actors:

Every actor made it in the top 30 but here are the top actors:

Steve Reeves has eight scenes in the top 30: one from GOLIATH & THE BARBARIANS; two from HERCULES; two from HERCULES UNCHAINED; one from LAST DAYS OF POMPEII; one from THE GIANT OF MARATHON and one from MORGAN THE PIRATE.

Alan Steel also has four moments in the top 30: one from SAMSON; one from HERCULES AGAINST THE MOON MEN; one from THE GIANT OF MARATHON and one from HERCULES AGAINST ROME.

Mark Forest is third with three moments: one of each from MACISTE VS THE MOLE MEN; THE LION OF THEBES and GOLIATH & THE SINS OF BABYLON

Kirk Morris has 3 top scenes: one from MACISTE IN HELL, one from TRIUMPH OF MACISTE and one from HERCULES, SAMSON & ULYSSES.

As for the ladies:

Gianna Maria Canale has two scenes, both of them in the top ten: one from SPARTACO - SINS OF ROME and THEODORA - SLAVE EMPRESS.

And Sylva Koscina also has two with one from HERCULES and one from HERCULES UNCHAINED.

Many of my favorite films like SAPPHO THE VENUS OF LESBOS, APHRODITE - GODDESS OF LOVE, THE LAST OF THE VIKINGS, KINDAR THE INVULNERABLE, HERCULES AGAINST THE MONGOLS, THE BACCHANTES didn't make it in the top 30 even though there are many amazing moments in these films but not strong enough to stand alone.

You can view the top 30 here:





Honourable mention list:

URSUS - Arena/climax

THE IRON CROWN - too many small scenes; Climax

FABIOLA - Saint Sebastien; climax

HERCULES * - too many to mention

HERCULES UNCHAINED * - too many to mention

HERCULES, SAMSON & ULYSSES * - Delilah's dance; climax



SAPPHO - VENUS OF LESBOS - The entire beginning but it includes more than one moment so I didn't include it; The Death of Actis

HERCULES AGAINST THE MOON MEN * - Climx/battle with moon men; Queen drugging Herc

THE TROJAN HORSE - Games; big battles; climax

SPARTACUS & THE TEN GLADIATORS * - climax

THE TEN GLADIATORS - fight between Mimmo Palmara and Roger Browne

GOLIATH & THE VAMPIRES * - Brawl in public square; Dance number

SAMSON & THE SEVEN MIRACLES OF THE WORLD - Chariot scene

THE GIANTS OF THESSALY * - Battling the cyclops monster

TERROR OF THE STEPPES - Duel with wood beams (almost made it in the top 30...)



MACISTE IN THE VALLEY OF THUNDERING ECHO - crushing walls

COLOSSUS OF THE ARENA - introduction of characters; Climax in arena


HERCULES AGAINST THE SONS OF THE SUN - battle at climax

CLEOPATRA'S DAUGHTER - fight in morgue; buried alive


KINDAR THE INVULNERABLE - fight scene in desert; defeated at battle

ULYSSES VS HERCULES - Birdmen dance; Ulysses vs crazy King



AVENGER OF THE SEVEN SEAS - torture scene

HERCULES IN THE HAUNTED WORLD - The Golden Apple moment; the sybil

79 AD THE DESTRUCTION OF HERCULAMEUM - lake arena battle

THE 3 AVENGERS - Alan Steel vs Mimmo Palmara (I uploaded this scene at PEPLUM TV)

THE REBEL GLADIATOR - Commodus screaming; Ursus vs Commodus

COLOSSUS OF RHODES - Escaping statue from ear

MASSACRE IN THE BLACK FOREST - entire climatic battle

TRIUMPH OF HERCULES - the golden warriors



REVOLT OF THE SLAVES - Catacombs scene; Saint-Sebastien; climax in arena

SCIPIO - Climax

MACISTE IN KING SOLOMON'S MINES - Feat of strength

WAR OF THE TROJANS (The Avenger) - Aeneas sees Trojan War mural

GIANTS OF ROME - Crucifixion scene

HEROD THE GREAT - stoning of Sylvia Lopez's character

GOLIATH & THE DRAGON - anger towards statue of Vengeance


MACISTE IN THE LAND OF THE CYCLOPS - Feat of Strength; Gordon Mitchell vs Paul Wynter

THE TARTARS - Dance number

THE MINOTAUR - Climax

SALAMMBO - Inner Sanctum

SAMSON & THE SLAVE QUEEN - Maciste vs Zorro

7 SLAVES AGAINST ROME - Massive brawl at climax

SON OF SAMSON - Feat of Strength (obelisk)

URSUS IN THE LAND OF FIRE - contest and feat of strength



WAR GODS OF BABYLON - Destruction of Babylon

ULYSSES (1954) - Ulysses and Circe

THIEF OF BAGHDAD - Flying on winged horse

THE AFFAIRS OF MESSALINA (1951) - Dance number; the end of Messalina

SON OF SPARTACUS - Randus captured

SANDOKAN THE GREAT - Climax

SAMSON & THE MIGHTY CHALLENGE - Brawl in tavern

HERCULES AGAINST MOLOCH - Hercules walking up prison wall

THE SEVEN REVENGES - Deadly contest


* next to title indicates additional scenes from titles which already have one scene in the top 30



Photo of the Day

Andromeda (Judi Bowker) is unaware that someone is looking at her while she sleeps in CLASH OF THE TITANS

In this scene Perseus is wearing a magical helmet which makes him invisible and he has entered Andromeda's bedroom and he's looking at her while she sleeps. I always wondered, back then and still today, if this was intended to be a pervy kind of thing. The way it's filmed in COTT it's made to look sorta harmless but take for example another identical scene in SALAMMBO where the horny hero clearly looks at a sleeping Salammbo with lustful intent and there was no question that sex was in his mind. I guess it can go either way: as a simple 'sleeping beauty' kind of harmless fantasy shot or it can be a horny pervy kind of thing.

Judi was also in Zeffirelli's BROTHER SUN, SISTER MOON but I don't remember seeing Judi in anything else after this.

The Secrets of Isis


Saturday morning TV show called THE SECRETS OF ISIS starring Joanna Cameron as the superhero who inherited the powers of Egyptian goddess Isis after finding a magical amulet. Why don't they make a full feature of this? You can check out the opening credits for this show on Youtube (below) and full episodes have also been uploaded there.

From Wikipedia:

Isis' first appearance in comics was in Shazam! #25 (Sept-Oct. 1976). She was later given her own TV tie-in book the following month, the title ran for two years.

In January 2002, DC Comics re-introduced the goddess Isis as one of the chief gods worshipped by the Bana-Mighdallian Amazons in the Wonder Woman comic.



Photo of the Day

Graham Chapman, as Brian, is whisked away by some aliens in MONTY PYTHON'S THE LIFE OF BRIAN.

A comedy parodying the life of Jesus in typical Monty Python fashion. I much prefer MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL than this one. This alien scene is not really funny. It's very forced. As a PEPLUM fan I wished my funny bone was tickled by it.

Same prop, different films


Above, from PONTIUS PILATE and below from MACISTE AGAINST THE CZAR (aka Atlas against the Czar) starring Kirk Morris.


Photo of the Day

Princess Dia (Caroline Munro) and Ghak (Godfrey James) are introduced to some new friends (Peter Cushing and Doug McClure off screen) in AT THE EARTH'S CORE

This is one of those stories of some relatively 'modern' men (Victorian time) who end up in some strange prehistoric world with some lost civilization tormented by various strange monsters. I, a Canadian in Montreal, used to watch this film religiously every time it played on the US network ABC in the late 1970s and early 80s. The beautiful Caroline Munro helps make this goofy but good-hearted adventure fun to watch. Great surreal sets, great score (standard orchestra and electronic), fun cast with so-so special effects. What's not to like?


Coming Soon: HERCULES 3D



When I heard about the two Hercules films for 2014 I went Hmm...One will star Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson (Here) and the other Kellan Lutz in a 3D film. So here are the first official posters for the upcoming Kellan Lutz HERCULES 3D film. There's no doubt that Kellan is perfect for the PEPLUM genre but this film doesn't look like Hercules at all. It looks like your average gladiator film which could still be fun but considering that Hercules won't have any superpowers in this version and Renny Harlin is directing well... Thanks alanlovecraft.



This is from the official website: HERCULES 3D. This is Hercules?

Photo of the Day

Pasha Ali Nadim (Vincent Price) escorts Princess Marjan (Maureen O'Hara) upon her return to her land in BAGDAD

Maureen plays a Bedouin princess (!) who was educated in England and now returns to her people only to discover that her father was murdered and she tries to find who's responsible. The pale skinned, redhaired Maureen made tons of these films and they are fun to watch even if, like this one, they are wildly improbable. In this screenshot, she seems a tad over-dressed for the desert. It's great to see Vincent Price and Maureen act together. They must have had a lot of fun doing this Technicolor 'Eastern' adventure. Someone called it ' O'Hara of Arabia' which I like.


Movie Poster Mondays

Vivid French poster for HERCULES AGAINST THE MONGOLS

One of my favourite PEPLUM flicks: fast and action packed. No sequence from it made it in the top 30 Greatest Moments but a few scenes would make the honourable mention list. The whole film clicks.

Photo of the Day

Ombretta Colli as Princess Cori and Gabriele Antonini as Alexander the Great in GOLIATH & THE REBEL SLAVE

Gabriele always played supporting roles, was almost never the main star of a PEPLUM (with a couple of exceptions) which is sorta sad because he was really good as Ulysses in the Steve Reeves' HERCULES films. His perennial baby face/young look probably limited his choice of roles as leading man but he had a long lasting career well into 2000s. He's still alive. I would love to interview him. I'm sure he has great stories to tell. As for Ombretta well she went into politics at one point in the 1990s and won.

QUO VADIS Dramatic Highlights


Before folks could watch movies on VHS tapes or DVDs there were very few options for fans to enjoy their favorite films at home; there were 8mm/16mm film transfers and there were also albums with the film's audio transposed to vinyl. You could listen to Nero's singing and Robert Taylor's American twang in a sea of British accents.


Oops...


Opening credits with mistakes in them. Above: from FABIOLA...Messimo Girotti should be Massimo Girotti. And below, from MACISTE IN THE LAND OF THE CYCLOPS, Gordon Mitchell is now Mitchell Gordon.


In the US version of DUEL OF CHAMPIONS, the name for the composer is incorrect. His name is Angelo Francesco Lavagnino. The A. shouldn't be in the middle which would be Francesco Angelo Lavagnino. I made a Fan Dub of this and actually redid the opening credits and kept the mistake regardless.

Photo of the Day

Princess Amina (Carmen Sevilla) and tyrannical father Ibrahim (Gino Cervi) prepare for some big news in DESERT WARRIOR

This film was made just before the release of HERCULES and it's a nice solid production if a bit generic. It's an Italian/Spanish co-production but it's really a Spanish production as the two lead actors are Mexican (Ricardo Montalban) and Spanish (Carmen Sevilla). It's even listed at IMDb under its Spanish title: LOS AMANTES DEL DESIERTO. And it was released first in Spain (1957) and in Italy a year later, in December 1958. So it's one of the few Spanish PEPLUM flicks. As another note of interest: according to IMDb, this film has 5 directors to its credit (4 names are listed during the opening credits)!!!

3,000-year-old King David of Israel palace found

Archaeologists have unearthed a palace in what they believe is the fortified Judean city of Shaarayim, where the Bible states King David battled the giant Goliath. The discovery of what is thought to be King David's palace, measuring 1,000 square metres, was made by Hebrew University and the Israel Antiquities Authority. Over the past seven years the teams have also uncovered a huge storehouse containing pots and artefacts that they believe proves the existence of a ruler in Judah in the tenth century BCE.

'The ruins are the best example to date of the uncovered fortress city of King David,' professors Yossi Garfinkel and Saar Ganor of Hebrew University said.

'This is indisputable proof of the existence of a central authority in Judah during the time of King David.'

Daily Mail

Then & Now : Peter Lupus

Peter Lupus, billed as Rock Stevens, in HERCULES AGAINST THE TYRANTS OF BABYLON; a recent picture of Peter today.

Photo of the Day

Dan Vadis (back to us) is about to kill two gladiators in COLOSSUS OF THE ARENA

This scene happens at the very start of the film, when gladiators are recruited by the film's bad guy. Now hopefully this won't be too confusing to explain: the fellow on the left is Alfio Caltabiano. Alfio is in this film and has a main role as one of the evil gladiators. But in this brief scene, with his head covered, he's an unidentified gladiator who is killed by Vadis. We're not supposed to know it's Alfio but I recognize his body. Alfio's evil gladiator character is introduced right after this scene. I guess it was a way to cut corners in the budget. The question is who is the fellow on the right? I don't recognize his physique, which is quite impressive in action. It's not Mark Forest that's for sure. Is it Pietro Torrisi? You know you're a PEPLUM fan when you don't need to recognize an actor by his face.


Lobby Cards Set: SON OF CAPTAIN BLOOD

US lobby cards set for SON OF CAPTAIN BLOOD starring Sean Flynn. A below average set. Too many photos with the actors shot from a distance and sorta repetitive. No images from the disaster-filled climax. Best cards are 2, 4 and 5. It really doesn't showcase much of the film.

Photo of the Day

Christopher Lee and Kerwin Mathews in PIRATES OF BLOOD RIVER

This is one of those pirate films in which the story takes place entirely on dry land. They should have called it RAIDERS OF BLOOD RIVER. The story is almost inconsequential; pirates looking for some booty on a Caribbean island. To say that this Hammer film is mediocre would be an understatement. It's a watchable time-waster with stunning cinematography but the grounded story is tedious and filled with unintentionally hilarious bits. Things aren't helped much when the story seems to take place in and around just a few locations and sets, which is typical for a Hammer production. Also the locations don't look very Caribbean as the film was shot in England. 

The cast is great, including a young Oliver Reed, Lee, Mathews and Glenn Corbett (!) but the film lacks any interesting female characters. That's not a problem if the story demands it but it's one of the few instance when a Chelo Alonso type of babe would have automatically made the film more entertaining. Christopher Lee is an imposing presence even if he plays a Frenchman with a thick and serviceable but not very convincing French accent. When I played this film on PEPLUM TV some viewers laughed at the effeminate sounding pirate, saying he didn't sound too menacing. When I told them that the 'effeminate' pirate was played by Christopher Lee they were shocked and sorta changed their minds afterwards which I thought was funny. Don't ever shade Christopher Lee!

Kolossal - I Magnifici Macisti


KOLOSSAL - I MAGNIFICI MACISTI is a film/documentary made of various scenes from PEPLUM films produced in the 1950s and 1960s. It was released in 1977. It's extremely rare and I've never seen it but the soundtrack, by Nico Fidenco, is easily available. Hmm...

Photo of the Day

Deron McBee and Joann Ayers in TIME BARBARIANS

...or is it Joann Ayers and Deron McBee?...they do sorta look alike certainly thanks to those horrendous mullet  hairdos. The barbarian Deron plays ends up in the present one hour into the 90 minute long film. It's almost anti-climatic. Joann has a dual role as she plays a reporter in modern day L.A.. The funny thing about this film is the fact that the barbarian speaks English and has no difficulty communicating with folks in L.A.. He has no difficulty with his new surroundings which belies the whole point of the 'fish-out-of-water' storyline. The acting is woeful. It's definitely one of the worst films of the Sword & Sorcery from the era but like so many Troma releases it's still entertaining for laughs in a 'It's so bad it's good' time waster.

Before they were PEPLUM stars : Ed Fury in GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES



Ed Fury made many appearances in Hollywood films before going to Italy and star in several classic PEPLUM productions. Here's Ed in GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES. I knew he was in this (Steve Reeves is supposed to be in this as well but I can't find him) and had tried to find him before but could never find him well that's because they dyed his customary blonde hair a dark shade (thanks to Facebook friend PEPLUM ETERNITY for this revelation) and voila now I can spot him. Ed is immortalized as the fellow Jane Russell runs her hand in his hair at the song's climax. He's also the fellow who jumps in the water in front of Jane at one point. Cool.


Photo of the Day

Helena Glabrus (Nina Foch) and Claudia Marius (Joanna Barnes) shop for slaves with the help of Batiatus (Peter Ustinov) in SPARTACUS

This is my favorite scene in SPARTACUS. It's not showy and big but in my mind it's the one instance when the film actually creates something sorta brazen and revels in the absurdity of it all. It's also the one instance when the Stanley Kubrick touch shines through.

I know I recently posted a pic from SPARTACUS a couple of days ago but I was thinking of doing a PEPLUM Cliché post with scenes of people buying slaves and of course this scene was going to be included. The one problem with this is that the slaves are usually on one side and the buyers on the other side which, visually speaking, complicates things. I'll continue working on it because it is a popular cliché.

The Guardian: Cleopatra, the film that killed off big-budget epics

To understand the scale of the budgetary and box-office double-whammy that did for Joseph L Mankiewicz's elephantine 1963 version of Cleopatra, it's worth noting that of the 50 most expensive movies ever made, adjusted for inflation, Cleopatra is the only one on the list that was released before 1998 – and at no 15, it's still a major contender. The budget was around $44m ($320m in today's money), the kind of outlay that might have helped Nasa put a man on the moon by 1966.

The weird thing was that, even on this unprecedented scale of loss, Cleopatra, hampered by its lengthy and event-filled gestation process – which included Elizabeth Taylor's near-fatal illness and the film's subsequent relocation to Rome's gigantic Cinecitta Studios – and by the publicity attending the scandalous affair between Taylor and Richard Burton (both then married to other people), still managed also to be the biggest US movie hit of 1963. Even so, it was a financial disaster for 20th Century Fox. It also more or less killed off the big-budget period epic for ever, just as The Greatest Story Ever Told killed off the biblical epic in 1965, and Heaven's Gate would finally kill off the long-moribund classic studio western in 1980. Flops on this scale are like suicides, they take everyone else down with them.

So what did Cleopatra give us in return? A bloated and tedious, neverending yawner that flashes briefly to life in a couple of spectacle sequences – the battle of Actium and Cleo's entry into Rome – and some stretches of pungently witty dialogue, especially when Rex Harrison's Caesar is still around. That's what Mankiewicz was good at – talk – so how he ended up on the bridge as this ship went down can only be accounted for by that special hidebound, gerontocratic mindset that still governed the 1960s studios.

More at The Guardian

What do I think of this recent article?

Regardless of what I think of CLEOPATRA I'm glad this exists. The PEPLUM genre needs massive introspection of itself in order to be revived fully and make sure no one makes the same mistakes. I agree with him that it's a bloated and tedious affair (the same words I've used for my IMDb critique of this film) but I disagree that only CLEOPATRA killed the genre. The failure of THE FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE was also a big factor in the demise of the epics. Suffice it to say I enjoy reading these new articles in the mainstream media.

Photo of the Day

Turno (Gianni Garko) holds a belt/prize just handed to him by Lavinia (Carla Marlier, centre), who doesn't believe he deserved it while Aeneas (Steve Reeves) watches on in WAR OF THE TROJANS (The Avenger)

WAR OF THE TROJANS is the British title of this and I prefer it over the simple THE AVENGER. Very good film with an excellent performance by Gianni Garko, who celebrates his birthday today. He's 78 years old. Happy birthday, Gianni!

Movie Poster Mondays

US poster for the 1911 version of THE ODYSSEY

The oldest poster I've posted here at the blog.

PEPLUM X blog

Don't forget to check out the PEPLUM X blog. You can view the blog in different format. The screenshot below was made with the Mosaic option. 

PEPLUM X (NSFW)



Photo of the Day

A scene from CLEOPATRA - QUEEN OF SEX

A Japanese Anime from 1970, at nearly 2 hours long, it's a totally over-the-top trippy 1970s concoction and I usually love those type of films but this one was meandering in so many different directions that 30 minutes into it and I had already forgotten the point of it all. Kamikaze-disrobing of female characters occur frequently. 

It actually starts off in outer space...yes, outer space and with *real actors* with animated heads on top of the actors' real faces. Folks from some orginazation set in the future send 3 people in the past on a mission to take over the bodies of three living Egyptians all in an attempt to try and figure out why some neighbouring alien's secret plot is called 'The Cleopatra Plan'. Do the earthlings from the future figure it all out by the end of the film? I have no idea. The whole film is on Youtube but without English subtitles (mine has subtitles). Tip: the use of some mind-altering substance is required to appreciate this. 

What movie?

Can you identify the film from this screengrab?

Magazine cover

Magazine cover for THE ROBE with fresh faced Richard Burton and Jean Simmons. They look so young and innocent on this cover. Time would decidedly change that.

Photo of the Day

Christine Kaufmann is in a precarious situation in TARAS BULBA

I wonder how many actresses from the PEPLUM genre had to do a scene like this?

Technical goof

This spectacular scene of marching gladiators from MESSALINA (1951), which must have taken hours to set up, is nearly ruined with the fellow at the far right who stares straight at the camera as he walks out of the frame. I'm sure the director made a few expletives when he saw this.

Cinematic Confusion

This is one of the most ridiculous posters in the history of Cinematic Confusion posts. What does this image have to do with the actual film set in Rome? The laughing horse doesn't help.

Photo of the Day

Giuliano Gemma lost his head in MESSALINA

The green makeup is a bit much but it's a cool shot.

PEPLUM stars in non-PEPLUM films

Chelo Alonso appeared in 19 films with more than half of them being films from the PEPLUM genre. She's a definitive PEPLUM star. So what about her non-genre roles? This shot is from GIRL UNDER THE SHEET and it looks like she pretty much did the same stuff from looking at this publicity photo.

Photo of the Day

Venus (Annie Gorassini) seduces Vulcan (Iloosh Khoshabe) in VULCAN - SON OF JUPITER

The film doesn't make a lick of sense but who cares with a sexy cast like this.